Wrangler Raptor Bronco Battle

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A few weeks ago, I commented on a Ford Bronco post on social media that was about how Ford thinks the new Bronco will eat the Jeep Wrangler for lunch (I’m not really sure where the exact quote about that is). My comment was, that on paper, the new Bronco looks to be a superior off-road vehicle to the Jeep. Many people quickly commented back saying that being able to make a prediction like that is not sound and that there is one crippling feature the Bronco does not have which will always make the Jeep superior.

That feature is a solid front axle. Jeeps always reign supreme because of having a solid front axle. The Bronco will be coming with independent front suspension. While I completely agree, that my opinion about the Bronco on paper is premature to call it superior to the Jeep without actually physically being able to compare them yet, I had to really think about the solid front axle issue.

After thinking long and hard about it, I concluded that I believe the Bronco is intended to be a different kind of off-road vehicle. I am not saying that the Bronco should not be compared to the Jeep, but I think the type of off-roading each vehicle is good at is slightly different. Jeep is intended for mountainous trails with steep inclines and jagged rocks. The Raptor and soon to be Bronco are created for desert trails and speed. That conclusion was solidified when I watched one of Doug DeMuros recent videos about the Jeep Mojave. I think Jeep built the new Mojave to specifically go head to head with the new Bronco in desert speed. The Fox shocks installed on the Mojave is almost the sole reason I think this.

What vehicle are Fox shocks famously found on? Oh yeah, the Ford Raptor. While no one is exactly comparing a Raptor to a Jeep, the Raptor is an insane desert off-roader. That is the type of driving I believe that the Bronco will fulfill to an even greater degree, but also tackle mountainous trails in an above-average way than what the Raptor currently does. This is why I think Jeep is installing Fox shocks, increasing the speed in low gear via the transfer case, and raising the ride height of the Mojave to prepare to compete with the Bronco on desert trail running. They know the Bronco is a threat and they are preparing for it. On the flip side, one could wonder why Jeep is moving away from “Trail Rated” and now placing “Desert Rated” badges on the Mojave? I think they want to show dominance in all areas first.

All of this makes sense when you look at the type of vehicles most popularly used for desert rally and endurance racing. Trophy trucks and the H1 Hummer are not exactly solid axle. The rear axle of a trophy truck is solid, but the front is independent and Hummers are portal. Looking at those vehicles and knowing that the Raptor is built to be with those vehicles, I believe it is safe to assume that the Bronco, with its independent suspension, is intended to join those vehicles playing in the sandbox.

One last side point is the modification capability of each vehicle. A point I made in my comment on social media was that the Jeep culture is vast and strong, and the aftermarket modification parts, capability, and customization is enormous. The Bronco out of the box will not have that. It will take some time for the aftermarket accessories to increase and bugs to be ironed out.

Even with all of this, I am incredibly excited for the Bronco to come on the market. Choices and competition are amazing and this will only make the off-road segment even more popular. Although, most of these will probably never leave the asphalt.

Retool for the New School

Reading Autoblog today, stirred up some thoughts I have been mulling over for a while…the matter of automobile production. What really does it take to produce an automobile? If it is just like anything else in life, the willingness, passion, desire, and devotion to get it done are the ingredients to success. Why that doesn’t seem to work, or at least it was never popular up until this point I just don’t know. But I see a shift coming. A shift that will change the way automobiles are conceived, made, bought, and driven. More importantly there will be a shift to a unique connection between company, machine, and consumer.

I think the turn around time for creating a concept vehicle by a company, and either not producing it, or saying that it will be produced 3-5 years down the road…is absolutely stupid. That’s a lie. If you want to make something, you will make it, end of story. Sure it takes time to reset production plants and assembly lines, gather the materials and resources, create new machines that can make the new parts…yes I get that. But really, where has that gotten us? It has gotten us to this point, where new ideas are being generated faster than that old process can keep up.

Three stories on Autoblog today relate to this topic. The first is that Nissan is planning to build a new vehicle every 6 weeks until 2016. I say that is the most brilliant plan of any company to date. That kind of diversity will make their vehicles more exclusive and personal for consumers. In this day in age, consumers want to be part of a whole, but they want to stick out in that whole. This plan that Nissan has will provide that. Creating that type of momentum for niche audiences will also start creating a desire for people to own something that has the ability to become rare, which instead of seeing an automobile, particularly a grocery getter, as a expense, it is seen as an investment.

Second story is that Lamborghini is undecided on whether to create the four dour Estoque (Which has been around for what I think is a while and it is dumb they haven’t made it yet. It’s a great vehicle with would serve a purpose.) or an SUV. My opinion, BUILD THEM BOTH! Lamborghini shocked the world a few months ago with talk that they might start creating an “everyday” line-up of vehicles. People think that it might tarnish their image. I don’t. Lamborghini will never be a second rate company. If they want to build the most powerful exotic SUV, let them. It just goes to show that others can’t do what Lamborghini can do.

Lastly; the Jeep story. Just emerging from bankruptcy and paying off their debt, Chrysler has got some major catching up to do. They had an epic super bowl commercial, but I don’t think they are being wise on riding that success. Jeep has been considering producing a pick up Wrangler for a while, aka the Gladiator. Why they have not built it yet has made sense, paying back loans and all. But the decision to yet again put it on the back burner because cash is tied up in other places; like making small cars…REALLY? The Jeep has global sales capability, it already does, and it could add to it with the pickup model. To retool the assembly line to make a pick up Jeep Wrangler is much easier I think than to retool it to create a whole new car! Chrysler, I don’t know what you’re thinking but I don’t think it is very wise on this one. Try to remember your super bowl commercial and make the right decision to do something brilliant.